Meet the Board

Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy’s Board of Directors is made up of parents, grandparents, family members, and friends of those living with Duchenne. Unlike many nonprofits, PPMD’s Board is hands on, not only governing the organization, but directly working within many of PPMD’s programs.

Gretchen Egner, Chairperson

Gretchen lives in Mukwonago, WI with her husband Brian and her mom Rose. She and Brian have two adult sons–Alex, who lives in Denver, and Nick, who lives in Whitewater, WI and attends the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater. Nick was diagnosed with Duchenne in 2001. Gretchen earned her B.A. in English Education from Illinois State University and an M.S. in Reading from UW Whitewater. She teaches high school English and is an avid trail runner. Gretchen is a Coordinator of the PPMD’s Connect Wisconsin group.

Alpa Khushalani, Vice Chairperson

Alpa lives in Fayetteville, GA with her husband Vishal, and three sons, Krishna, Eshan and Vihaan.  Alpa completed her Bachelors in Computer Science from Mumbai University, India and joined a global IT services firm and migrated to the US. Between 2005 to 2013, she was a client partner for several multi-million dollar engagements and managed projects spanning across US, EU and Asia. Her family has moved across the US living in AZ, NJ, NC, SC, IL and are now settled in GA.  In 2014, at the age of six years, their oldest son Krishna was diagnosed with DMD. Since then Alpa has been associated with PPMD and has successfully fundraised through Race to End Duchenne and Coach to Cure initiatives and organized local awareness events. Alpa is passionate about advocacy, building local DMD communities and expert standards of care. In 2017, she became the connect co-ordinator for Illinois and is now co-ordinator for the Georgia and South Carolina regions. She also serves on the advisory committee for certifying clinics as CDCC. In addition to volunteer work at PPMD, Alpa and her husband run a nonprofit school, Gurukulam that provides free education to 250+ underprivileged children from KG through 12th grade plus vocational training in Chennai, India.

Dawn Rezkalla, Treasurer

Dawn lives in Powell, Ohio with her husband Justin, daughter Madeline, and son Alex. Dawn completed her bachelor’s degree in business from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, majoring in Accounting and Finance. She began her career in public accounting with Ernst & Young and went on to hold several leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies such as L Brands, Wendy’s, and Sysco. Dawn currently serves as Chief Financial Officer for a wholly owned subsidiary of Sysco.

Alex was diagnosed with Duchenne at the age of 4 in 2015. Since then, fundraising and advocacy have been a big part of Dawn’s personal journey with Duchenne. She and her husband created the Little Hercules Golf Classic, through which they have raised funds to contribute to Duchenne research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and donated to PPMD campaigns. Dawn also served as a panelist for virtual PPMD presentations, met with House and Senate members at the advocacy conference, was featured in a continuing education video on brain impacts in Duchenne and has publicly testified in support of therapies for Duchenne patients.

Dawn is passionate about PPMD’s mission overall with a specific interest networking, fundraising, and policy changes so that we can offer more therapies to more patients as quickly as possible.

DeAnne Friar, Secretary

DeAnne lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband, Mike, and their two children Colleen and Kyle. Their middle son, Kevin, passed away in 2018 from Duchenne. Both Kevin and Kyle were diagnosed with Duchenne in 2004. DeAnne is a retired Speech-Language Pathologist after 27 years in the public school setting. She has been involved in PPMD’s Advocacy Conference in Washington DC and is currently a Connect Coordinator for the state of Michigan. The Friars have hosted numerous events to support PPMD including the Friar Fight Golf Outing and the GR.1K.

David N. Hofstein, Executive Committee

David lives in Philadelphia with his wife Gail. Their grandson, Henry Beyer, who was diagnosed with Duchenne in May 2017 at the age of 4, lives in Los Angeles with his parents Diana and Jon and his younger sister Lucy. David is the senior partner of the Philadelphia based domestic relations law firm of Hofstein Weiner & Meyer, PC. He is committed to doing whatever he can to help those being affected by Duchenne. 

Rasha Alnaibari

Rasha’s son was diagnosed with Duchenne aged 3, in 2016. She started her career in asset management on the buy-side. After obtaining her MBA, she joined Shell Gas and Power where she helped lead Shell LNG Trading’s Middle East division. When her first child was born, Rasha and her husband moved back to Kuwait and she went back to Asset Management to build a global portfolio of Infrastructure and Energy investments for Kuwait Fund. Rasha received her MBA from INSEAD and her Bachelor degree in Computer Science from Kuwait University. She is now based in New York, where her husband is a diplomat and her boys go to school.

Sue Apkon, MD

Susan Apkon, MD is a Pediatric Rehabilitation Physician at Children’s Hospital Colorado/University of Colorado School of Medicine. She has provided care for boys and men with Duchenne since completing her residency in Pediatrics and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at University of Colorado/Children’s Colorado in 1999. Dr. Apkon is the Co-Director of the Neuromuscular Program and Co-directs the PPMD Certified Care Center at Children’s Colorado. She has served as a PI or Co-PI on numerous clinical trials focused on the care of boys with DMD. Over the last 20 years, Dr. Apkon has spoken on many different topics at the annual PPMD conference.

Jeff Bigelow, MD

Jeff’s son Henri was diagnosed with Duchenne in 2012 at the young age of 2. Jeff is a neurologist, specializing in epilepsy, at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, UT, practicing since 2012. He grew up outside of Salt Lake City, UT. He attended the University of Utah for undergraduate, then New York Medical College for medical school. He then completed training in neurology at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT, then relocated to San Francisco for a two-year fellowship in epilepsy and clinical neurophysiology fellowship at University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. In addition to his volunteer work with PPMD, Jeff runs a non-profit, Zion’s Children of Haiti, providing education and food support to children in Gonaives, Haiti. Jeff lives in Millcreek, UT with his wife Alexis and five children.

Timothy Cripe, MD, PhD

Timothy P. Cripe, MD, PhD, FAAP, is chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a Gordon Teter Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cancer at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University.

Dr. Cripe received his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Princeton University and his M.D. and Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Iowa. He completed his pediatric residency training at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital and his subspecialty fellowship training in pediatric hematology/oncology from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Children’s Hospital, Boston and the University of Colorado/Children’s Hospital, Denver. He was on faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital prior to coming to Nationwide Children’s.

Anessa Fehsenfeld

Anessa lives in Rockford Michigan with her husband Scott and three children, Bekah, Tyler, and Hudson. Their middle child, Tyler, was diagnosed with Duchenne in 2005. Anessa has served on PPMD’s Board of Directors for 11 years, and as Chairman for 9 years. She is the current Race Director for Mitchell’s Run Thru Rockford, a Race to End Duchenne 5K, which has raised over $1 million for Duchenne research. Anessa advocates on Capitol Hill in support of PPMD’s priorities each year, she participates in and supports numerous grassroots fundraising events, and most recently ran the Dopey Challenge, 48.6 miles, on the Race to End Duchenne Team. Anessa has a Bachelor of Science in Leadership & Business Management from Grand Valley State University.

Michelle Furlong

Michelle has been active supporter of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy since it was founded in 1994. As a Duchenne sibling and the daughter of PPMD’s Founding President Pat Furlong she has had the unique privilege of witnessing every challenge, every display of resilience, and every accomplishment this community has made together in the last three decades. Michelle joined the PPMD Board in 2023 and is passionate about preserving her mom’s legacy and commitment to this community.

Currently, Michelle is the Vice President of Human Resources, at HUB International, a leading North American insurance brokerage, where she specializes in strategic human resources leadership with an emphasis on performance management, talent development, culture and employee engagement.

Originally from Middletown, Ohio, Michelle began her HR career working at Standard Chartered Bank in New York and London, where she was the Global Head of HR Strategy. She returned home to Ohio in 2015 to open her own small business, a boutique yoga studio, before returning to her Human Resources Career. Michelle holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from The College of William & Mary and a Master of Arts Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from New York University. Michelle also serves as a Member-at-Large on the Board of Directors of Girl Scouts of Western Ohio.

Michelle and her husband Jason are avid travelers with a long wish list of destinations. They currently live in Loveland, Ohio.

Lance Hester

Lance lives in Gig Harbor, Washington. He has two sons, including Micah, a teen who was diagnosed with Duchenne when he was 3 years old. Lance is a partner at a small law firm, where he has worked for over 20 years. He is a long time PPMD board member, and has participated in several grass roots fundraising event, run several marathons raising funds for PPMD, and has a passion for PPMD’s advocacy efforts.

John Killian

Bio coming soon

Richard Klein

Richard is an internationally recognized expert in pre-approval, or expanded access to unapproved therapeutic agents. He serves as Director, Expanded Access Programs & Policy for the GE2P2 Global Foundation, following a more than 41-year career with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Working in various capacities at FDA provides him with a well-rounded understanding of the regulatory issues that affect patients. He helped develop the revised expanded access regulations and guidelines, led the creation of the FDA expanded access website, and played an active role in the development of the streamlined application for individual patient access, and the Reagan-Udall Foundation Expanded Access Navigator. Mr. Klein spearheaded the effort to create the waiver of full-board IRB review for individual patient access to unapproved drugs and biologics.

Mr. Klein served as director of the FDA’s Patient Liaison Program in the agency’s Office of Health and Constituent Affairs, the primary agency interface with patients and patient advocate communities. He interacted extensively with outside communities and within the agency’s scientific and policy offices to advocate for patient interests, and to facilitate patient engagement in regulatory activities. He worked closely with patient communities to actively address issues and concerns of patients in a variety of areas, including treatment access to unapproved drugs, product safety, and clinical trial design.

Before taking on that role, he created the FDA’s HIV/AIDS program, working with AIDS activists and advocates to coordinate their input and participation in regulatory policy and decision-making related to HIV/AIDS. Prior to working in patient engagement, he was engaged in policy development and regulation of protections for human research subjects, and provided guidance for institutional review boards (IRBs).

Colin Rensch

The first member of the board with Duchenne muscular dystrophy himself, Colin, 25, lives with his family in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Colin received a B.A. with majors in both music and history from Hope College in 2016. Colin’s academic specialty is the history of music, and he received his M.A. in musicology from the Western Michigan University School of Music in 2018. He is currently a graduate student in the Department of History at Western Michigan University and serves as a teaching assistant. Colin is an active member of the First Congregational Church of Kalamazoo, where he sings in the choir and volunteers with other worship arts ministries.

Member Emeritus

Linda Cripe, MD

Dr. Cripe is a professor of pediatrics and a pediatric cardiologist for The Heart Center. She is also a member of the physician team for the Neuromuscular Disorders section of The Neurosciences Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Dr. Cripe completed her residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. She served as a pediatric cardiology fellow at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and at Children’s Hospital Boston. Before coming to Nationwide Children’s, Dr. Cripe spent 12 years at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Dr. Cripe’s clinical interests focus on non-invasive cardiac imaging specifically echocardiography as well as on the care and treatment of cardiomyopathy associated with neuromuscular disease, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy. She was a member of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Steering Committee Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Standards of Care, and has been an invited lecturer nationally and internationally on cardiomyopathy related to Duchenne.

Lifetime Trustees

Howard Kaplan

Bio coming

Donna Saccomanno, Co-Founder

Donna is co-founder of PPMD and lives in Yonkers, NY. Her son Thomas passed away in 2024 from Duchenne. Donna is a Registered Nurse working in the health and wellness field of Integrative medicine, medical weight loss, and bioidentical hormone replacement. She also has background in pediatrics.